It’s our first day of spring break and I just woke up. I’m drinking hot coffee my daughter heated up and munching on white toast with jelly that my son made me. Yes, I’m eating super healthy again-predominately whole foods, vegan- but how can you resist a little boy’s gift?
I’m feeling anxious planning my day. I’m back to work tomorrow and need to make some food. The kids are on break, though I’m not. I want this to be fun for them, but I need to get stuff done. So what do I do when there’s so much to be done?
I stop and write.
I love to write. All the time. I take notes in my phone. I scribble in a journal. I blog online. I send texts more than I make phone calls. Why? I could say that I write for you, but of course this isn’t true. I write for me. I write to make sense of the world and my life. I write so that I don’t forget.
Later I read over my texts, my notes and my blog and I remember.
I wish I had written in medical school or residency. I wonder what I really thought at 2 am doing CPR on that gunshot victim, or of that friend that turned mean or of who I was becoming. I wonder if it would have made things better.
I went through some old posts recently and came across A Day in the Life of Clinic. I wrote it in October 2008. I can’t remember the day, but it clearly it happened because it sounds typical. This was a working day in Guam. I forgot how long clinic could get. I usually worked only half days but covered if needed for the whole day. Here are some out takes.
“3:20- Another little boy in a long list of little boys comes cruising in. The mom looks so delightfully rested and beautifully attired that it makes me want to go take a shower. Or at least brush my teeth.” Wow is that the truth. I often look longingly at other people’s lives and wonder what it would be like. I had a mom once come in and say she just needed to have her child ears looked at before they went to Cancun. I was floored. Do people really live like that? Life was so hard when the children were babies. I cried a lot. It’s easier now.
“3:35- My staff is standing around waiting for me to clear a room so they can do something. I’m the rate limiting step. They tell me- in case I don’t know- that I have a full waiting room. I nod my head in acknowledgment and keep on moving.” This still happens. I have never gotten accustomed to the pace of pediatrics. I have never gotten used to needing and wanting to talk more and yet knowing I am behind. I usually open my visit with, “Hi I’m Dr Cason. Thank you for waiting.”
“4:00- My staff asks me if I need help. I say no. They ask me if room three is done. I tell them I can’t remember who is in room three. I have to peek my head in and see. Ahhh yes, I remember. They can go.” Yep. I tell my patients – don’t let me forget about you. You’d be surprised how lovely some people are- I think they would wait patiently forever.
“5:00- I wonder if my husband is home and preparing dinner for our three kids.” I don’t wonder anymore. Of course he is feeding them.
“7:30-The last patient walks out the door. We all breathe a sigh of relief. I wonder how many I have seen but I’m too tired to count. No charting has been completed. None. Zip.” This has gotten better. I moved back to the states and have a different practice. I insist on charting as I go now. It doesn’t always happen, but I try.
Highlights of the Day – A lollipop red tongue that then sings me, “Tweeeenkle Tweeeeenkle little Star”. Dodging a perfectly arc’d urine stream in a follow up circ. Twirling a pigtail into one long spirally curl. The grandmother and I launch into a discussion about how you just can’t get good Shirley Temple movies anymore.
I think I love this more than anything. What are my highlights yesterday? It was a Sunday spent rounding at the hospital nursery and then working urgent care.
1. Texting my kids “Good Morning”.
2. Examining the little sweet babies. Watching the mommies coo over them and ask if they were ok. I said, ” Yes.They are beautiful. ” And they were.
3. Getting a hot green tea before my urgent care shift. Thank you Starbucks.
4. Being fired by my patient. His mom told me, “He said he wants a new doctor”. I guess Little Mr Strep throat didn’t appreciate the throat swab. Poor sweetie.
5. Listening to another mom tell me that her 2 year old said her forehead felt “grumpy”. Original. I’ve never heard that before.
6. Connecting with families. A teenage swimmer’s father told me, ” I’ve been swimming for 30 years. And now I swim with him.” He goes on to say, ” First my eyes went. I now wear goggles. Then my ears went. I now wear ear plugs!” I smiled and said, “Next you’ll be in a wetsuit!” He laughed and said, “Yep!”
7. Coming home to a clean house and my family. I am so lucky.
Well, my two hours of writing are now up. It’s time to hit publish and go about my day. When I write, I learn about myself. Today I learned that taking the time to document the good stuff, reminds me of how much good stuff is out there. And also that when I write…life slows down.
I don’t feel anxious anymore.